Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wedding Toasts - Tips for the Bride, Groom, Best Man...or anyone with something to say!

Raise a glass—now’s the time to toast to the happy couple! Wedding toasts and speeches can sometimes cause anxiety - but don’t let them. Enjoy your moment in the limelight, and make the most of these situations with wedding speech some prep work.

Your best man, maid of honor and other special guests may inquire about appropriate speaking times—so it’s good to have an idea beforehand. You and your fiance may also want to prepare some expressions of gratitude for your parents, your guests or each other. Every wedding is different; discuss and layout a general “toasting timeline” before the celebrations begin.

Who Toasts at a Wedding?

Traditionally the best man, maid-of-honor and parents of the bride and groom will say something over the course of events. However, close friends, the bride and groom themselves or anyone who has something to say is welcome to make a toast.

When to Toast?

When to toast all depends on the nature of your wedding. If yours will be a cocktail or buffet-style reception, your guests may not ever be gathered at the same place and time to listen to toasts. Another option is to hold the formal wedding toasts, such as the best man’s speech, during the rehearsal dinner instead. At a seated dinner, the father of the bride traditionally toasts to commence the meal. Your caterer can arrange an official champagne toast, passing glasses of champagne to each guest prior to the best man speech or the father of the bride. Toasts can really occur at any time during the reception - between courses, after the meal, during the cake cutting etc. Try to give your event coordinator an estimated timeframe beforehand, so he or she can round up your guests to listen.

How to Respond to Wedding Toasts

Everyone should rise for toasts to the new couple except the bride and groom, who remain seated (unless they already happen to be standing). When someone toasts the bride and groom, they should smile and say thank you. They should not clap or drink to themselves. If a toast addresses the bride only, the groom should rise. If a toast is directed towards the parents or any other guest, both the bride and groom should rise.

When the Newlyweds Toast

This is a wonderful opportunity to publicly recognize your family and friends for their love and support. If the bride and groom make a toast, they should not speak in unison (this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised…). They should instead stand together while one speaks or take turns speaking.

What to Say in a Wedding Toast

Wedding toasts should be light, fun and G-rated. Avoid saying anything you wouldn’t say to the bride’s grandmother’s face. Be succinct. There is nothing more awkward than a rambling, bumbling best man speech - under two minutes is perfect. All speakers should begin by introducing themselves. While toasts should include memories or funny anecdotes, avoid too many inside jokes that exclude the majority of guests. Your jokes will be met with silence if only a few listeners understand! Finally, wedding toasts should mention both the bride and the groom, even if the speaker only knows one or the other. And if the spotlight is on you and you’re suddenly at a loss for words, try the old standby, “I’m so happy for you two. Cheers!” It never goes out of style.

How to Say It

It’s smart to prepare beforehand, but always try to speak from the heart. Reading from a card seems insincere and awkward.

Get even more tips on wedding toasts and wedding speeches

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wedding Guest Gripes - Top 8 Complaints that Irk Wedding Guests

Chances are, you´ll be the only one to notice if the five-tiered wedding cake tilts slightly to the left or the best man dons his favorite black sneaks, but wedding guests everywhere agree that the following blunders make for a painful wedding experience…

1) Bad Timing –
Long pauses between the ceremony and reception are generally a bummer. If you cannot book the ballroom immediately following the ceremony, arrange for cocktails and hors d´oeuvres at an adjacent space.

2) Cash Bars –
Sorry, a cash bar is never an acceptable money-saving solution. Swallow that expensive pill by thinking about this: you would never ask guests to pay for a cocktail in your own home; your wedding should be the same.

3) Stranded Dates –
Don´t create a painful experience for your attendants´ dates. Speed up the marathon photo sessions and seat dates together with the wedding party at the reception.

4) Stranded Guests –
If your wedding reception and ceremony locations are far apart or far from accommodations, you should provide guest transportation. Besides the obvious safety concerns of drinking and driving, your guests should remember what a lovely time they had at your wedding – not what a pain it was to get there.

5) Unaccommodating Accommodations –
Failing to provide information for convenient and affordable accommodations for long distance guests never goes over well. Don´t force guests to be their own travel agents, and don´t secure the only room block at a 5 star hotel unless all of your guests have 5 star budgets.

6) Silent or Tardy Dinner Bell –
If your four hour reception falls during meal time, understand that your guests will be expecting just that – a meal. And they´ll expect that meal during normal lunch or dinner hours, so don´t wait until 10 pm to serve dinner.

7) Ungracious Hosts –
Failing to acknowledge any gift or thoughtful gesture with hand-written, personalized thank you notes is always an etiquette faux pas and never a breech that will go unnoticed. WRITE YOUR THANK YOUS!! Suffering from writer's block? These useful thank you note examples will help you get started.

8) Just Plain Tacky –
Ok – let´s get it out – when it comes to money dances, novelty songs (hokey pokey comes to mind), singles dances or cake smashing - most guests are in agreement that they´d just as soon not see it. Of course, there will always be those who find these acts acceptable and those who don´t – but as host/hostess, your job is to make guests feel at ease and comfortable – so best to err on the safe side and refrain from these potential blunders.

Need more etiquette advice? This complete guide to wedding etiquette will answer all of your etiquette questions.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Custom Wedding Vows - What to Say?

Writing your own wedding vows is definitely an ambitious undertaking. Not only must you determine the perfect words to say, but those words must be rehearsed and recited in front of your closest family and friends on a day that will be one of the most important of your life. Suffering from a case of writer’s block? To get you started—here are some useful ideas and resources to spark your creativity.

Consult your past
Time for a trip down memory lane. Start jotting down the details of special firsts in your relationship—first meeting, first date, first kiss, first “I love you,” etc. What qualities made you fall in love in the first place? Are there special milestones in your relationship that that have helped bring you here today?

Envision the Future
What challenges and achievements to you foresee in the future, and how do you expect to meet those things together?

Complete Me
Sure, it’s a line from a movie—but there’s a reason for its now cliche status. What characteristics does he/she bring out in you? How does he/she make you a better person?

Use the right words
Compile your notes, memories and reflections, and begin turning words into sentences, and finally sentences into wedding vows. Consult your thesaurus for the perfect expressions to reflect your thoughts. Some words to get you started: love, trust, support, strength, encourage, respect, cherish, admire, value, commit, pledge and promise.

Get even more tips and advice on writing your own wedding vows at!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

World's Worst Wedding Songs

You may want to pass by these songs when putting together your wedding playlist. Not only are most of them cheesy and grossly overplayed at weddings, some contain lyrics that are completely inappropriate for a wedding. Don’t let these bad wedding songs happen to you!

1. Chicken Dance
. Our Take: Nothing about a wedding screams “flap your arms and pretend to be a chicken.” Nothing. No one likes this dance, we promise.

2. YMCA - The Village People.
Our Take: Most people look ridiculous attempting to spell out the letters.

3. Shout - Isley Brothers. Our Take: One of the most overplayed songs at a wedding reception. Please be original and leave this off your play list.

4. Macarena - Del Rio. Our Take: As a general rule, songs that promote a form of line dancing should be reserved for bad karaoke bars.

5. Electric Slide.
Our Take: See previous response.

6. Celebration - Kool and the Gang.
Our Take: Again, grossly overplayed.

7. Hot, Hot, Hot - Buster Poindexter. Our Take: So not hot!

8. Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion. Our Take: Leave the Titanic song off the playlist unless you want to leave the impression that your marriage is a sinking ship (and an overly sappy one at that).

9. Gold Digger - Kanye West.
Our Take: Jaws drop, the dance floor clears, and the first official fight between the bride and groom commences

10. D-I-V-O-R-C-E - Tammy Wynette. Our Take: Seriously?

Get even more advice on picking your wedding songs in this complete wedding music guide.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thank You Notes - Etiquette and Wording Samples

Yes, we all love to receive gifts, and weddings are a perfect occasion for gift-giving, as friends and loved ones customarily honor the commitment of the newly betrothed by showering them with wedding gifts. As the happy couple, just remember to always feel privileged, not entitled. Approach thank-you notes with as much thought and organization as the rest of your wedding planning process.

Rules & Etiquette

Send thank you notes to acknowledge everything from place settings to gifts of time or talent. Remember, a separate, handwritten note must be sent for each wedding present or act of kindness. Start sending thank yous as soon as gifts arrive, even if it is before your wedding (but make sure to use your maiden name). Gifts that you receive on your big day should be followed up with a thank you note no later than one month after you return from your honeymoon (now you can use your new last name). To ease the process, keep track of wedding gifts and thank-you cards on the same list of names and addresses used for your invitations. Personalize the thank you cards by ordering them with your monogram, or place a picture from your big day on the front.

What to Say - Wording Samples

Thank you notes are written and signed by one person but should express the gratitude of both the bride and the groom. ("Mike and I sincerely appreciated...") Make direct reference to the gift itself. For monetary gifts, indicate how the money will be used. Whether you specificially mention the amount given is optional. Here are some suggested wording examples to get you started:

To a close friend or relative:

Dearest Aunt Sandy,

Thank you so much for the generous gift. As you know, John and I have been saving for a new home and your contribution will help greatly. We can't wait to have you over for a housewarming party very soon! Thanks again for thinking of us and for sharing in our special day.

To a more distant friend, relative or business colleague:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Lee,

Thank you so much for the lovely vase. It will go beautifully on our kitchen table, and Meghan and I will think of you each time we use it. Thanks again for sharing our joy.

To someone who couldn't make it to the wedding but still sent a gift:

Dear Denise & Chris,

Thank you both very much for completing our sterling place setting collection. Martin and I look forward to using it at every special dinner we host. We truly missed you both on our special day and look forward to seeing you soon.

To someone who wasn't invited to the wedding but sent a gift anyway:

Dear Lorie & Mike,

Thank you both so much for the thoughtful gift certificate. Amanda and I look forward to purchasing new appliances for our kitchen with it. Thanks again for thinking of us during this special time in our lives.

Get even more advice on thank you notes, thank you note examples, and a complete guide to wedding etiquette.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wedding Toasts - 3 Steps to Making a Memorable Toast

There´s nothing like a great toast. And nothing worse than an absolutely torturous one. Here´s how to handle the speeches whether you´re a groom or best man.

The Right Time

The best man´s moment is obvious, but a groom often wants to give a shout out to those who have made this day possible, as well as to tell a little sweet (and short) story about the new love of his life. (How you met or the moment you first knew you loved her is always a good one.) The best times for such a speech are either when the rehearsal dinner is winding down if you expect it to be a little more intimate or emotional moment, or to conclude the reception speeches.

What to Say (and not to say)

1. Always thank the bride´s parents. And both families for that matter.

2. Thank the guests too since they make the day what it truly is.

3. Look for a particular anecdote that quickly emphasizes a point you´re trying to make.

4. For the best man: a moment when the groom´s personality truly shined.

5. Funny is always good, but dirty or too risqué almost always falls flat.

6. Inside jokes in front of hundreds of family and friends are pointless too.

Speaking Tips

Think back to the last time you gave a speech or presentation in front of lots of people. How nervous were you? Did you get on a roll when you had cues to rely on or was it better when you were speaking off the top of your head? This should be your guide as to how much time, thought, and effort you need to put into preparing for the speech. Beyond that, here are some tips:

1. Even if you´re a veritable John Stewart, think of what you want to say at least a day or two before the wedding.

2. The good news is that your subject is something (or rather, someone) dear to your heart. Let that guide you.

3. Try to avoid needing to memorize or type out the entire speech. Instead, use a few note cards and practice it a few times to get your rhythm.

4. Perhaps the most important thing about a toast though, beyond its pithy stories and emotional moments, is its brevity. Keep it to 2-3 minutes max. Whether you´re the groom or the best man, this day obviously means a lot to you. And while it means something to all of the guests, it´s not as big of a deal for them. So get to the heart of the matter quickly, and get out.

Get even more toasting tips in this complete guide to wedding toasts

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bridal Showers - 5 Unique Bridal Shower Ideas

Where did we get the idea that sitting in a circle and opening hand towels or scandalous underthings was the best way for a woman to spend some quality time with female friends and family before her wedding? Somehow a bridal shower focused on kitchenware and awkward games seems to fall short of adequately preparing a bride-to-be for the significant transition involved in getting married.

Looking for a more meaningful way to usher yourself – or your friend – into marriage? Here are some ideas and rituals that will help the bride come away from her shower feeling nourished and connected with herself and her friends.

1. Showers for a Cause

The bride doesn´t necessarily have to be the one getting showered with gifts. Instead, shower for a greater cause, and give something back with a day dedicated to a charitable contribution that holds special meaning to the bride.

Some ideas:
Pink Envelope Bridal Shower -
Help the fight against breast cancer. Have a Pink Envelope Bridal Shower through the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation. They´ll send special pink donation envelopes for inclusion in the shower invites, and guests can make a donation to Making Memories on behalf of your bridal shower. Be sure to take plenty of pictures, as they´ll feature your bridal shower on their website.

Green Bridal Shower –
For the conservation conscious, host a bridal shower that´s good for soul and the earth. Make the event focused on green causes instead of perfunctory shower games. Plant a tree instead of playing pin the tail on the groom. Serve locally grown vegetarian cuisine, register for eco-friendly items and housewares, and of course, make sure invitations and paper products are recycled.

2. Thought Exchange

Have a shower focused not on the exchange of tangible gifts, but rather on the exchange of heartfelt gifts like advice, emotions and feelings. Using the bridal shower to involve sharing and listening will help the bride connect with her friends and her own feelings about the wedding and marriage.

Some ideas:
Have attendees "shower" the bride with advice on being a good partner. Each guest can come with their thought to read aloud, or the maid-of-honor can gather submissions from everyone ahead of time to compile into a scrap book that´s presented to the bride at the shower. Another idea is a traditional recipe exchange with a twist. Each guest brings a recipe card, one side featuring the recipe for a great dish, and on the other side, the recipe for a good marriage.

3. Memory Lane Shower

Have a shower focused on reminiscing shared memories and friendships. This pseudo-separation ritual will help the bride reconnect with her old self as she prepares to take on a new identity.

Some ideas:
Create a memory book – asking every attendee to write a page or two detailing their fondest memory with the bride. Gather these stories along with photos into a memory scrapbook. Or have each attendee bring a gift that represents a memory – a cd of favorite songs from high school, a photo album, that old cheerleading uniform once worn every Friday. Another idea is a slide show of photos set to music, where everyone contribute some of their favorites. You can also play memory games; each guest describes a memorable past event – and the bride must guess the year, location, and people who were there. The evening is sure to provoke a lot of heartfelt reminiscing.

4. Slumber Party

Break out the PJs, sleeping bags, and tubs of ice cream – it´s time for some serious female bonding. A slumber party is another great way for the bride to revel in that special connection she has with the women in her life, and it affords her an encouraging setting to share openly any feelings she has about her upcoming marriage. Consider incorporating some of the above ideas into the slumber party – such as exchanging advice or creating a scrapbook.

5. Poetry Shower

John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Constantine Cavafy, Robert Frost, Robert Herrick… treat a bride with a passion for the literary arts with a feast of beautiful poetry. Have all attendees bring a poem containing wisdom or sentiment about love or marriage, and take turns reading. The evening will be intellectually enriching and inspiring.

Get even more ideas for bridal shower games at - Elegant Galas Made Simple.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wedding Transportation Guidelines for Your Wedding Day

These important wedding day guidelines will ensure your ride is as smooth as possible.

Be Prepared

Ease your stress on the big day by preparing the night before. Designate someone to be in charge of transportation coordination on the wedding day. Create a call sheet listing the contact information of this person and the wedding transportation companies, all pickup and drop off addresses and times - with detailed directions. Give this sheet to your designated wedding day transportation coordinator and all drivers in advance, and call the day before to confirm the arrangements. Make sure everyone getting a ride has a copy of the directions with emergency contact numbers in case the driver gets lost.

Give Yourself Time

Make sure you give yourself some padding when it comes to time. If the limo is picking you up for the ceremony at 4, aim to be ready by 3:30. The last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is time; this is NOT the day to arrive fashionably late!

Have Fun!

Make the ride just as fun and memorable as the event. Stash some champagne in your vehicle and have a toast on the way to the reception. You may also consider a toast, albeit a small one, on your way to the ceremony (takes the edge off!).


Consider having your photographer ride along with you on the way to the ceremony and or to the reception. You will capture some glamorous in-car shots.

Visit the wedding transportation guide for even more advice on planning your wedding day ride.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wedding Invitation Etiquette - Dos and Don'ts

They provide the first glimpse into your wedding, but ordering, wording, and addressing invitations can be confusing without a little guidance. This list of wedding invitation etiquette dos and don’ts will help steer you through this common wedding etiquette dilemma.

Wedding Invitation Etiquette - The Dos

  • Do invite the partners of guests who are married, engaged, or living with a significant other. Try to find the name of your guest’s intended date (if you don’t already know it), and include that person’s name on the invitation.
  • Do send unmarried couples living together one invitation, where their names are listed in alphabetical order and on their own lines. (guests living together as roommates, not couples, should each receive their own invitation)
  • Do spell out all dates, times, and states (half after four o’clock in the evening, not 4:30 pm; and the twenty-second of April, not April 22)
  • Do put return postage on your response cards.
  • Do send wedding invitations at least six weeks before the big day. Try to order invitations three to four months in advance to ensure they go out on time.
  • Do abbreviate Mr. and Mrs., but spell out the title Doctor
  • Do send a separate invitation to children over the age of 18 still living with their parents.
  • Do publicize your wedding registry information by word of mouth only.

Wedding Invitation Etiquette - The Don’ts

  • Don’t use punctuation on the invitation, except after abbreviations and between the city and state.
  • Don’t print “and Guest” on the outer envelope to indicate to a single friend that he/she may bring a date, as this looks awkward. Print it on inner envelope instead.
  • Don’t print “no children” on the invite if you’re planning an adult’s only reception. Simply address each invitation explicitly to your intended guests (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, not “The Smiths”).
  • Don’t print wedding registry information on the invitation.
  • Don’t forget to invite your officiant and his/her spouse to the reception.
  • Don’t include an R.S.V.P for invitations to a ceremony only (by the way, it’s only proper to send invites to only the ceremony if there will NOT be a reception)

This complete guide to wedding invitations has even more tips and advice to help you plan your invites. Get a complete list of wording samples in our Wedding Invitation Wording guide.

Looking for more wedding etiquette advice? This complete etiquette guide answers all your questions!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Take the Marriage Compatibility Test!

Being a bride-to-be is certainly fabulous – a sparkling rock on your left hand, a valid excuse to go overboard on shopping (you need those Manolos for your honeymoon, after all), parties thrown in your honor, blowout arguments with your fiance… Uh, I beg your pardon?

Of course we jest – but there’s a hint of truth here. Remember, the engagement period is more than the time needed to plan a big party; it’s also the trial run for your marriage and future life together. The bottom line? Discuss potential challenges and disagreements now, not after you’ve cut the wedding cake.

So take the marriage compatibility test to see if you're really meant to be. The guide walks you through a list of the top pre-wedding discussions to have before you say “I do.”